Alaska confirms second case of monkeypox

A microscope image of gray oval shapes
This electron microscope image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions (left) and spherical immature virions (right) obtained from a sample of human skin associated with a 2003 prairie dog outbreak. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith/CDC)

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services recorded the state’s second case of monkeypox on Wednesday, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin.

The new case involves an adult male who began experiencing symptoms within the last week. Both cases are in Anchorage and McLaughlin said neither has required hospitalization.

The case count is expected to rise “steadily,” said McLaughlin, though he emphasized that for the general public, the risk of getting monkeypox remains relatively low. Monkeypox spreads through prolonged contact with someone who carries the virus, and the majority of cases are from sexual contact.

“​​It’s not spread through casual conversations or by walking past somebody in a grocery store,” McLaughlin said.

So far, McLaughlin said 16 Alaskans have been vaccinated against monkeypox. The state is currently prioritizing vaccines for two “tiers” of at-risk individuals. Tier 1 includes people with a known exposure to someone who tested positive for monkeypox. Tier 2 includes people who may be at high risk of exposure, including people who have multiple sexual partners, especially among men who have sex with men. 

Alaska has about 330 doses of vaccine, according to McLaughlin. The state will have an opportunity to order more from the federal government in about two weeks. Some states with higher case counts already have long waitlists for the vaccine.

“There are going to be a lot of people who meet the criteria for Tier 2,” McLaughlin said. “The sooner people who meet those criteria for Tier 1 or Tier 2 reach out to their health care provider, the sooner they’ll get a vaccine.”

If you live in Anchorage you can reach out to the Anchorage Health Department to get vaccinated. If you are located outside of Anchorage, McLaughlin recommended contacting your local public health center to request a vaccine. 

The state currently has four courses of treatment for monkeypox, which are being reserved for severe cases. McLaughlin said Alaska has quick access to more treatment as needed through the Federal Strategic National Stockpile.

This story has been updated.

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Kavitha George is Alaska Public Media’s climate change reporter. Reach her at Read more about Kavitha here.

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